George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 4 June 1790

To the United States Senate

United States [New York]

Gentlemen of the Senate,June 4th 1790.

I nominate the following persons to be Consuls and Vice-Consuls of the United States of America for the Ports which are affixed to their names.1 viz.

Cadiz  Richard Harrison of Virginia to be Consul of the United States of America for the Port of Cadiz in the Kingdom of Spain, and for such parts of the said Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the said Kingdom.

Bilboa  Edward Church of Massachusetts to be Consul of the United States of America for the Port of Bilboa in the Kingdom of Spain, and for such parts of the said Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the said Kingdom.

Madeira  John Marsden Pintard of New York to be Consul of the United States of America for the Island of Madeira, and such other Islands of the allegiance of her most faithful Majesty as are nearer to the same than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same allegiance.

Liverpool  James Maury of Virginia to be Consul of the United States of America for the port of Liverpool in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and for such parts of the said Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the said Kingdom.

Cowes  Thomas Auldjo of the Kingdom of Great Britain, to be Vice-Consul of the United States of America for the port of Cowes, and such parts of the same Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the said Kingdom.

Dublin  William Knox of New York to be Consul of the United States of America for the port of Dublin in the Kingdom of Ireland, and for such parts of the said Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the said Kingdom.

Marseilles  The Sieur Etienne Cathalan the yo[u]nger of the Kingdom of France, Vice-Consul of the United States of America for the port of Marseilles and for such parts of the same Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same Kingdom.

Bordeaux  James Fenwick of Maryland to be Consul of the United States of America for the port of Bordeaux in the Kingdom of France, and for such parts of the same Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the same Kingdom.2

Nantes  Burrell Carnes of Massachusetts to be Consul of the United States of America for the port of Nantes in the Kingdom of France, and for such parts of the said Kingdom as are nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the same Kingdom.

Havre  The Sieur de La Motte of the Kingdom of France, to be Vice-Consul of the United States of America for the port of Havre de grace and such parts of the said Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same Kingdom.

Rouen  Nathaniel Barrett of Massachusetts to be Consul of the United States of America for the port of Rouen in the Kingdom of France, and for such parts of the said Kingdom as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States in the said Kingdom.

Hispaniola  Sylvanus Bourne of Massachusetts, to be Consul of the United States of America for the Island of Hispaniola, and for such other Islands of the allegiance of his most Christian Majesty as shall be nearer thereto than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same allegiance.

Martinique  Fulwar Skipwith of Virginia, to be Consul of the United States of America for the Island of Martinique, and for such other Islands and places of the allegiance of his most Christian Majesty as shall be nearer thereto than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice-Consul of the United States within the same allegiance.

Hamburgh  John Parish, Merchant of Hamburgh, to be Vice-Consul of the United States of America for Hamburgh.

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–91, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Executive Nominations; LB, DLC:GW.

1This message was presented to the Senate by Tobias Lear on 4 June. The appointments of Harrison, Pintard, Maury, Knox, Fenwick, Carnes, Barrett, Bourne, and Skipwith as consuls were confirmed on 7 June; consideration of Church as consul for Bilboa and Auldjo, Cathalan, La Motte, and Parish as vice-consuls was postponed, apparently because the nominees for vice-consul were foreigners (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:74–78). These nominations were not taken up again until 17 June. On that date the Senate began by considering whether foreigners ought to be permitted to hold consular appointments. The Continental Congress had considered this question in 1784 and had resolved “That it is inconsistent with the interest of the United States to appoint any person not a citizen thereof, to the office of Minister, chargé des affaires, Consul, vice-consul, or to any other civil department in a foreign country” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 26:144). After considerable debate on 17 June 1790 on what William Maclay called “the grand question,” the Senate adopted a resolution, apparently presented by Pierce Butler, “that it may be expedient to advise and consent to the appointment of Foreigners to the Offices of Consuls or Vice-Consuls for the United States.” The Senate then voted to approve the appointments of Church, Auldjo, Cathalan, and Parish; final approval of the appointment of La Motte was withheld until 22 June (Bowling and Veit, Diary of William Maclay, description begins Kenneth R. Bowling and Helen E. Veit, eds. The Diary of William Maclay and Other Notes on Senate Debates. Baltimore, 1988. description ends 295; DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:80–82). During the weeks that these consular nominations were being considered in the Senate, a conference committee was meeting to reconcile House and Senate versions of the Foreign Intercourse Act, which provided for the salaries of ministers plenipotentiary, their secretaries, and chargés d’affaires. GW was concerned that Congress would use this legislation to encroach on executive authority over foreign affairs, by asserting the right of the Senate to control the grade of diplomatic appointments and the places to which diplomats should be sent (see Thomas Jefferson to GW, 24 April 1790, n.1). These concerns were undoubtedly increased by the Senate resolution of 17 June asserting the authority of the Senate to judge the expediency of appointing foreigners to consular positions. In practice this authority might be used to prevent the establishment of consular posts for which no suitable American candidate could be found, but which the administration considered essential.

2On 23 June GW informed the Senate that the name James Fenwick had been presented rather than Joseph Fenwick. The change was entered in the Senate record (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:82; see GW to the U.S. Senate, 23 June 1790).

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